February 2024

Building the Future Through K-12 Construction Education

JE Dunn’s commitment to giving back and serving others can be traced to our very origin. John Ernest Dunn (Ernie), founder of JE Dunn, established a culture of giving within the company. Our corporate philanthropy impacts the many markets around the nation where we build, investing 10% of net income and empowering our employees to make an impact through volunteerism and an Employee Match Program. Over the years, our Community Impact team has piloted new programs to meet the growing needs of the industry and the communities we serve. Recently, that meant shifting an eye to the future generation of builders.  

In 2022, JE Dunn launched ‘Building the Future,’ a K-12 construction education initiative centered on bringing awareness to construction careers. Through partnerships with local schools and educational nonprofits, students gain hands-on experience and awareness of the many opportunities available in the industry. This exposure and awareness for future generations addresses the growing labor shortage crisis while developing a diverse talent pipeline. ‘Building the Future’ was a natural fit for JE Dunn since many of our employees were already volunteering to meet these needs and close those gaps in their own communities.  

Employees volunteer at K-12 schools and teach students about construction, help at different youth trade academies, and host “Introduce a Student to Construction Day” events. JE Dunn is invested in K-12 workforce readiness and exposing future builders and leaders to construction as a career. 

The impact and success of Building the Future is evidenced by the tremendous growth the program has experienced in two short years. Since launching, Building the Future has partnered with more than two dozen school districts and nonprofits, tripled the number of engagements year over year, and connected with over 10,000 local students. We’ve seen similar enthusiasm and growth internally with employee participation quadrupling from 2022 to 2023.    

“The Building the Future initiative serves the dual purpose of introducing young individuals to the diverse array of careers within the construction industry and conveying to students in our community that construction and skilled trades offer lucrative career prospects,” said Chrissy Chandler, JE Dunn Community Impact Education Manager. “It is exciting to know that through Building the Future, we contributed to closing the workforce gaps in the construction industry.”